Monday Night War: October 1996
The Monday Night Wars continue with Bret Hart sharing an important announcement, a title change on RAW and in WCW Macho Man gets serious.
WCW Nitro: 3.5
WWF RAW: 2.1
A good rating this week for Nitro as the show featured Harlem Heat defending the tag titles against Public Enemy, Jeff Jarrett made his debut for WCW and a non-match between Ric Flair and Randy Savage was the main event. Flair was out with injury so that would explain the bait and switch for the program. The show also featured a good thirteen minute match between Chris Benoit and Rick Steiner.
The feature bout for RAW this week saw Psycho Sid defeat the bizarre Goldust in the main event. The show also heavily promoted the Undertaker/Mankind feud. Jim Cornette and Vader continued to promote their feud with WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels noting that Vader had pinned Michaels several times but wasn’t champion.
WCW Nitro: 3.3
WWF RAW: 1.8
Match wise, Nitro this week featured nothing memorable and came across much more like an edition of WCW Saturday Night. The main take away from the program was Eric Bischoff showing footage of Elizabeth saying she regretted getting involved with the New World Order and was still in love with Randy Savage, who was challenging Hulk Hogan at Halloween Havoc for the WCW World Championship. The ending of the show saw the Nasty Boys, who thought they were in the New World Order, get attacked by the NWO after complaining about money. The actual main event to the show as Harlem Heat and Faces of Fear for the tag titles.
Mr. Perfect had an interview where he promoted his match next week against Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Jake Roberts pretended to be drunk in order to get a quick victory over Jerry Lawler with a DDT. It is kind of amazing that the main event for this show is WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels taking on Steve Austin and the rating being so low. In just under two years, they would have a memorable WrestleMania feud and match, but in 1996 nothing could seemingly dent the popularity of WCW.
WCW Nitro: 3.2
WWF RAW: 2.6
Nitro continues to have very strong numbers as this week featured Harlem Heat defending the tag titles against the American Males for the millionth time. Randy Savage was supposed to wrestle Chris Benoit in the main event, but again, that didn’t happen thanks to Bischoff showing another video of Hogan taunting Savage and saying that Elizabeth would think about him all night long. Savage delivered a very good, serious promo to end the program and provided a serious vibe to the title match at Halloween Havoc.
RAW was live this week and as a result the rating spikes up a little bit. The show featured top talents in action as Sid competed against Owen Hart winning by DQ. Sid is quite popular with the WWF fans at this point. The Smoking Gunns lost to The Godwins and tension was teased as Billy and Bart appear to be splitting up sooner rather than later. The show also features the infamous interview with Bret Hart who revealed he was sticking with the WWF despite a lucrative offer from a “rival promotion.” The main event saw Hunter Hearst Helmsley pin WWF Intercontinental Champion Marc Mero to win the title after Mr. Perfect turned heel and aligned himself with Helmsley after feuding with Helmsley for weeks prior.
WCW Nitro: 3.6
WWF RAW: 2.0
It’s evident that there was interest in the fallout from Halloween Havoc that occurred the previous night. The show featured Lord Steven Regal defending the WCW Television Championship against Juventud Guerrera. There was another solid match between Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero. The main event was Booker T taking on Lex Luger, which he won by count-out due to a distraction from the fake Sting. Most notably the show saw the confrontation between Hogan and Piper at the pay per view, which was likely the main drawing point to the show.
Jesse James returned to WWF television competing in singles action as a singing country star as a babyface. Crush made his return to WWF as well working a new gimmick as being a just released convict, which was actually true. The show featured a split screen segment where Steve Austin and Bret Hart promoted their singles match at Survivor Series. The main event was a singles match between Shawn Michaels and British Bulldog, which was the top feud for the WWF earlier in the year.
What are your memories of the Monday Night Wars at this point?
Thanks for reading.